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November 14, 2018 11:45 AM, EST

Top Railroad Policy Authorizer Jeff Denham Loses House Seat

Jeff Denham Denham speaks at an event at Union Station in Washington. (Office of Rep. Jeff Denham)

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), the top authorizer of railroad policy in the U.S. House, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Josh Harder in what had been a closely watched race in the Golden State.

The Associated Press reported on Denham’s upset Nov. 13, after officials announced their updated vote count.

Jeff Denham

Harder (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)

Denham won the central California seat during the 2010 Republican tea party wave election and quickly rose through the ranks, earning chairmanship of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee.

He sought chairmanship of the full committee in the next Congress, challenging a more senior colleague, Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.). With Democrats taking control of the chamber, Graves announced his interest in the ranking Republican spot on the full committee. Oregon Democrat Rep. Peter DeFazio is expected to succeed Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) for the chairmanship.

Denham’s tenure was marked by his attempts to ensure nationwide uniformity for meal-and-rest-break rules, primarily for truck drivers. His multiple attempts were unsuccessful, however.

In an interview with Transport Topics last month, Denham emphasized he was proud to have helped advance water infrastructure and railroad policy updates. He also addressed the need to realize long-term funding for infrastructure projects: “I think there’s a variety of ways to look at revenue … One of them is going to be vehicle-miles-traveled [fees]. We’ve seen pilot programs across the country, but our trucking industry already captures the vehicle miles traveled and the amount of taxes that they pay.”